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Article

Genetic Consequences of Fence Confinement in a Population of White-Tailed Deer

1
Behavioral and Molecular Ecology Group, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA
2
Oaks and Prairie Joint Venture, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA
3
Noble Research Institute, LLC, Ardmore, OK 73401, USA
4
Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA 90263, USA
5
Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, TX 78363, USA
6
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mississippi State University, Mississippi, MS 39762, USA
7
Natural Resources Office, McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, McAlester, OK 8657, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Luc Legal
Diversity 2021, 13(3), 126; https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030126
Received: 26 February 2021 / Revised: 5 March 2021 / Accepted: 8 March 2021 / Published: 16 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Conservation Genetics of Wildlife)
Fencing wildlife populations can aid wildlife management goals, but potential benefits may not always outweigh costs of confinement. Population isolation can erode genetic diversity and lead to the accumulation of inbreeding, reducing viability and limiting adaptive potential. We used microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA data collected from 640 white-tailed deer confined within a 1184 ha fence to quantify changes in genetic diversity and inbreeding over the first 12 years of confinement. Genetic diversity was sustained over the course of the study, remaining comparable to unconfined white-tailed deer populations. Uneroded genetic diversity suggests that genetic drift is mitigated by a low level of gene flow, which supports field observations that the fence is not completely impermeable. In year 9 of the study, we observed an unexpected influx of mtDNA diversity and drop in inbreeding as measured by FIS. A male harvest restriction imposed that year increased male survival, and more diverse mating may have contributed to the inbreeding reduction and temporary genetic diversity boost we observed. These data add to our understanding of the long-term impacts of fences on wildlife, but also highlight the importance of continued monitoring of confined populations. View Full-Text
Keywords: fence ecology; microsatellite; gene flow; inbreeding; genetic diversity; high tensile electric fence; Odocoileus virginianus; management; conservation fence ecology; microsatellite; gene flow; inbreeding; genetic diversity; high tensile electric fence; Odocoileus virginianus; management; conservation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Latch, E.K.; Gee, K.L.; Webb, S.L.; Honeycutt, R.L.; DeYoung, R.W.; Gonzales, R.A.; Demarais, S.; Toby, R. Genetic Consequences of Fence Confinement in a Population of White-Tailed Deer. Diversity 2021, 13, 126. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030126

AMA Style

Latch EK, Gee KL, Webb SL, Honeycutt RL, DeYoung RW, Gonzales RA, Demarais S, Toby R. Genetic Consequences of Fence Confinement in a Population of White-Tailed Deer. Diversity. 2021; 13(3):126. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030126

Chicago/Turabian Style

Latch, Emily K., Kenneth L. Gee, Stephen L. Webb, Rodney L. Honeycutt, Randy W. DeYoung, Robert A. Gonzales, Stephen Demarais, and Ryan Toby. 2021. "Genetic Consequences of Fence Confinement in a Population of White-Tailed Deer" Diversity 13, no. 3: 126. https://doi.org/10.3390/d13030126

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